BRUSSELS: The European Parliament on Thursday demanded the Myanmar military immediately end violence against Rohingya Muslims, adding to international pressure over the crisis that has sent nearly 380,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.
MEPs urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been pilloried by rights groups for failing to speak up for the Rohingya, to “condemn unequivocally” all incitement to racial and religious hatred.
A crackdown by Myanmar’s army, launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25, has pushed vast numbers of the stateless Muslim minority across the border.
The resolution backed by MEPs “strongly urges the military and security forces to immediately cease the killings, harassment and rape of the Rohingya people, and the burning of their homes”.
It also urges the European Union to make it clear it is prepared to consider sanctions against Myanmar if human rights abuses continue.
The violence has driven a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border and put intense global pressure on Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi to condemn the army campaign, which the UN says amounts to “ethnic cleansing”.
Chilling accounts have emerged from Rohingya refugees telling of soldiers firing on civilians and razing entire villages in the north of Rakhine state with the help of Buddhist mobs. The army denies the allegations.
“Myanmar has taken extreme action against the whole Rohingya community in response to the terrorist actions of a few individuals. They have gone well beyond an acceptable response,” British MEP Amjad Bashir said.
“We have put Myanmar on notice that unless the persecution and violence stops, we will take action.”
Suu Kyi, whose reputation as a human rights champion has been left battered by her response to the crisis, is to make a speech on the issue next week.
Her limited comments so far have referenced a “huge iceberg of misinformation” and played down alleged atrocities against the Rohingya.
Bangladesh is struggling to provide relief for the huge influx of exhausted and hungry refugees — some 60 percent of whom are children — while nearly 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also been displaced inside Myanmar.